Salem planning commission passes proposal for housing development after hearing passionate objections from neighbors

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SALEM, Va. (WFXR News) – The Salem Planning Commission has passed a proposal for a new housing development Wednesday night after hearing many neighbors’ passionate testimony against it.

There was such a large turn out for the commission’s public hearing about the proposal it was moved to the Salem Civic Center.

The proposal to have a property along Diamond Road and Upland Drive rezoned from Agricultural to Residential was passed in a 3 to 2 vote. The planning commission will make a recommendation to the city council to approve it and it will be up to council to decide whether or not it is re-zoned.

During the public hearing Wednesday, people who were against the development spoke about issues they are already having. But the developer, R. Fralin, and their associates discuss the measure they would put in place to help offset some of their worries.

Most of the worries were about infrastructure for water and traffic.

People shared stories about issues at certain intersections not mentioned in the traffic study and damaged roads.

They also were concerned about sewage and stormwater drainage.
A few people spoke about sewage issues, one man saying he’s had raw sewage in his yard. Another woman saying she had a sewage backup in his basement.

“Salem has a problem with their infrastructure. Salem has no business approving a new development until they fix the infrastructure for their sewer system for their existing residents who have been paying taxes.”

While addressing the commission, a representative with Balzer said the new subdivision would have stormwater management, which is something he says a lot of older subdivisions don’t have.

The Balzer associate also spoke about the traffic study that was done in the area. He mentioned that after reviewing the study it would be beneficial to add a four-way stop at the intersection of Upland Drive and West Club Drive.

“The site will not significantly impact the current level of service on Upland and Diamond Road, and we feel that up to this point, we’ve provided upfront and significant effort to identify and address these two main items, that relate to stormwater and traffic.”

But many residents gave accounts of issues they have with traffic and how this wouldn’t do much to help, especially with adding the additional homes and people.

R. Fralin staff members and their associates listened to concerns and made compromises where they could.

Before the public hearing got underway Robert Fralin address the crowd.

“We feel like after 4 revisions, and listening to citizens, although maybe not perfect for everyone. I can’t imagine anything is perfect with this many people in the room, but we really believe that we have fully addressed the concerns and this is the very best use of the property.”

Now that the commission has passed the proposals they will make their recommendation to the city council and the council is expected to vote on whether or not to re-zone the property at the October 28 meeting.

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